Jan 10, 2022
decriminalization, Hawkeye State, IA, Iowa, Iowa Constitution, legalization, legalization referendum, legislative referral, Sen. Janet Petersen, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, Senate Judiciary Chair Brad Zaun, simple possession, voter referral, voters
The Iowa Legislature returned to work today, kicking off its 2022 legislative session. Sadly, the Hawkeye State’s elected leaders remain far behind the times when it comes to cannabis policy — Iowa hasn’t even decriminalized simple possession of cannabis, although voters support full legalization.
After years of legislative inaction, three state senators have proposed a new approach — referring the question of legalization to voters themselves. Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), Sen. Janet Petersen (D), and Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott (D) have put forth a proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution that would provide, “the possession, growth, cultivation, processing, manufacture, preparation, packaging, transferal, consumption, and retail sale and purchase of cannabis, or products created from or including cannabis, by persons 21 years of age or older, shall be lawful.”
The proposal would first need to pass the Iowa Senate and House in two consecutive legislative sessions. (The governor does not have veto power over legislative referrals.) Then, it would need to be approved by voters. Outrageously, Senate Judiciary Chair Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) says he won’t even give the proposal a committee vote.
Iowa lacks a citizen initiative process, so the only way to change state law is for the legislature itself to pass a law, or for the legislature to refer the question to voters.
Let your legislators know voters deserve a say in cannabis policy. Ask them to work to pass the voter referendum.
You can also ask them to pass decriminalization in the meantime. Iowa is one of only 19 states that still arrests and jails its residents for simple possession of cannabis.
Please reach out to your legislators today and spread the word to other Iowans. It’s unconscionable that in this day and age, Iowans are still being deprived of their freedom for possessing a plant that is safer than alcohol. The overwhelmingly majority of voters agree — it’s past time for their elected representatives to listen.